Shear zone junctions: Of zippers and freeways

John P. Platt, & Cees W. Passchier

Published February 2017, SCEC Contribution #8353

Ductile shear zones are commonly treated as straight high-strain domains with uniform shear sense and characteristic curved foliation trails, bounded by non-deforming wall rock. Many shear zones, however, are branched, and if movement on such branches is contemporaneous, the resulting shape can be complicated and lead to unusual shear sense arrangement and foliation geometries in the wall rock. For Y-shaped shear zone triple junctions with three joining branches and transport direction at a high angle to the branchline, only eight basic types of junction are thought to be stable and to produce significant displacement. The simplest type, called freeway junctions, have similar shear sense in all three branches. The other types show joining or separating behaviour of shear zone branches similar to the action of a zipper. Such junctions may have shear zone branches that join to form a single branch (closing zipper junction), or a single shear zone that splits to form two branches, (opening zipper junction). All categories of shear zone junctions show characteristic foliation patterns and deflection of markers in the wall rock. Closing zipper junctions are unusual, since they form a non-active zone with opposite deflection of foliations in the wall rock known as an extraction fault or wake. Shear zipper junctions can form domains of overprinting shear sense along their flanks. A small and large field example are given from NE Spain and Eastern Anatolia. The geometry of more complex, 3D shear zone junctions with slip parallel and oblique to the branchline is briefly discussed.

Key Words
shear zone

Platt, J. P., & Passchier, C. W. (2017). Shear zone junctions: Of zippers and freeways. Journal of Structural Geology, 95, 188-202. doi: 10.1016/j.jsg.2016.10.010.